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Navigating Sustainable Energy and Climate Challenges with Gensets

May 25, 2023 9:13 pm

Navigating Sustainable Energy and Climate Challenges with Gensets
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The following analysis emphasises the factors to consider when selecting a generator, including load requirements, power outage frequency, and grid power quality. It explores different fuel options like diesel and gas and the impact of solar panels on genset power.

When it comes to selecting a generator for backup power, there are a few key factors you should consider. First and foremost, you need to evaluate the load requirements of the location where the generator will be used. This involves considering how critical the application is, especially in places like hospitals or data centres where even a brief power interruption is unacceptable. Secondly, it’s important to consider the frequency of power outages at the site, both scheduled and unscheduled. Lastly, it would help to consider the grid power quality available, including its voltage and frequency.

According to Gagan Deep Chanana, CEO & Joint Managing Director of Distributed Energy Business at Jakson Group, it’s crucial to assess the generator’s load to determine the right size and capacity. You must decide whether you require complete power backup or just for specific loads. The available space for genset installation can also impact its capacity and rating.

Several factors come into play when determining the capacity of a generator, such as the load, application, usage, area, and sometimes the budget. Narsing Agrawal, Vice President of Modern Hiring, highlights the benefits of different generation sources. He mentions that while the capital expenditure (Capex) is higher for gas gensets than diesel gensets, the operating expenditure (Opex) is lower. Diesel gensets also offer better blockloading and step-loading capabilities. However, due to pollution regulations, diesel gensets are restricted or even banned in certain areas, leading to a preference for natural gas gensets due to their lower pollution levels.

Mastering the mechanics: genset operation and fuel options unveiled.
Gensets, also known as generator sets, produce electrical power without utility power. They function by burning fuel to drive a generator that generates electricity. High-speed diesel (HSD) is the most commonly used fuel for gensets, which can be blended or unblended with a small percentage of biofuel or ethanol, as permitted by the government. In this regard, Gagan deep states, “The government permits blending of up to 10 percent and is considering increasing it to 20 percent in the future. However, gas can also be used as an alternative fuel for gensets. However, it is less popular due to the limited availability of gas infrastructure and the high capital expenditure cost of gas gensets.” Furthermore, the limited availability of gas gensets in India has contributed to their lower popularity, as only a few manufacturers produce gas engines that comply with the required emission standards.

Shifting the focus to alternative energy, Narsing seizes the opportunity to discuss the impact of solar panels on powering gensets. He explains, “Solar panels have an exceptionally long lifespan. Manufacturers advertise a lifespan of 20 to 25 years, with the output decreasing to approximately 80 percent of the original yield after this period. The reason behind this durability is that solar panels lack moving parts. The gradual degradation caused by UV exposure is the only factor that wears down the panels.”

On the contrary, Narsing emphasises that diesel generators incur a constant running cost due to fuel, cleaning, and filter changes. Although diesel generators are initially inexpensive, their net cost gradually accumulates over time. Moreover, diesel generators are prone to unreliability and often require costly overhauls. “For these reasons, a range of case studies conclude that solar generators are a more costeffective option in the long run,” he adds.

Maintenance of generators: ensuring safety and efficiency
Ensuring the safe and efficient operation of generators requires careful maintenance considerations. Operators must guarantee a safe distance around the generator for maintenance and safety. Additionally, it is crucial to ensure an adequate air supply to enable the genset to operate efficiently, as they rely on suction air at specific velocities and temperatures. Expanding on this, Gagandeep explains, “Consumers are provided with a maintenance schedule that outlines preventive maintenance tasks to be performed after a certain number of operating hours. The quality of fuel and oil used in the genset is also critical, and consumers should adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the appropriate quality.” Operators should receive proper training to ensure safe genset operation and maintenance, taking the necessary precautions to prevent accidents.

Reducing carbon footprints and environmental impacts
Considering the environmental impacts of generators, measures have been taken to minimise their carbon footprint. The Ministry of Environment and the Central Pollution Control Board have implemented emission norms in two phases, in 2005 and 2014. From July 2023, the most stringent norms will apply to genset engines up to 1000 kVA to reduce nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide emissions, resulting in cleaner emissions from advanced genset products. For larger gensets, consumers should use a 30-meter stack to direct emissions away from ground level. Technological advancements in engine design have been made to meet these norms, contributing to reduced pollution from gensets.

Factors such as rising fuel costs, environmental consciousness, and challenges related to transportation and storage may pose risks to the primary energy source of generators. Furthermore, the reliability and availability of the power grid can be uncertain. Recognising this, Narsing highlights why oil and gas companies and remote areas are increasingly turning to alternative energy sources. “To mitigate the environmental impact, we are diligently maintaining our existing fleet of generators following the emission guidelines set by the pollution control board. “We are investing in new generator technologies and exploring alternative fuel options such as natural gas and battery energy storage systems,” emphasises Narsing.

Future trends in genset technologies for sustainable energy and climate change
The development and utilisation of genset technologies are undergoing significant changes, driven by future trends and challenges related to sustainable energy and climate change. These include the implementation of more stringent emission norms, the integration of hybrid solutions combining renewables like solar rooftops, the adoption of open access systems, the implementation of energy storage solutions, and the exploration of various alternative energy options for customers.

Gagandeep highlights the purpose behind these advancements, stating, “The primary goal is to reduce carbon emissions and provide customers with sustainable energy alternatives. However, there are still challenges to overcome, such as high initial costs and the need for infrastructure development to support renewable energy sources. “Attaining these challenges is crucial to unlocking the full potential of sustainable energy and effectively mitigating the impact of climate change.”

Taking a positive stance on the future, Narsing emphasises the growing importance of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. “Companies are increasingly concerned about the reliability of their existing energy sources and their ability to meet the rising electricity demands,” he stresses. While diesel generators have been popular due to their ease of use and flexibility in fuel consumption, it is important to acknowledge their drawbacks. Diesel generators emit harmful pollutants that threaten human health and the environment.

The future of Genset technologies lies in adopting sustainable energy solutions and mitigating climate change. The industry can pave the way towards a cleaner and more resilient energy future by embracing stricter emission norms, integrating hybrid systems, exploring alternative energy options, and addressing cost and infrastructure challenges.

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